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Almost Like Being in Love by Steve Kluger

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When I was in middle school, my family moved from the town I’d grown up in and I was separated from my best friend. So my best friend and I developed this game in which we’d write these strange letters and memos to one another, not as ourselves, but as characters from movies and television shows. There was one series of memos that was particularly entertaining, in which I wrote as Chris Carter (creator of The X-Files) and my friend responded as “The Crew.” In these memos, all sorts of strange things were happening, including a “glue gun incident” that was never detailed but left lots to the imagination.

Steve Kluger’s novel reminds me of these letters and memos, in large part because it is written in the form of letters, e-mails, journal entries, and the like. There is a lot going on in this book, and a lot of it is detailed, yet a significant amount is left to the readers’ imaginations. Almost Like Being in Love is funny, and it’s sweet, and it’s a swift and adorable read.

The story, as cobbled together by the points of view of Craig McKenna and Travis Puckett, is this: boy meets boy in high school, they fall in love, they separate to go to college, and. . . Well, if it sounds Hollywood, at least Kluger is able to acknowledge even that by making Travis’ roommate a screenwriter who uses Craig’s and Travis’ story as a basis for his next big hit.

It comes down to Travis hunting down his first and one true love. There’s a lot of funny and a lot of heart in Kluger’s novel–and a good helping of baseball to boot.

The ending may feel a bit forced, but it manages to be in keeping with the Hollywood/Broadway-musical stylings of the story. Hell, the whole book could easily be scripted for stage. It’s that kind of plot.

And, well, I’ve always liked musicals.

This one gets a whole-hearted recommendation from me–but it’s not for anyone who might be squeamish about gay love stories.

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